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One of Jamaica’s leading Cultural Icons is appealing to students at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies to acknowledge the important connection between the Indian and African races.

The call was issued by Mrs. Amina Blackwood-Meeks, storyteller and communication specialist on Thursday (January 5), while delivering the feature address at the 2nd annual Rex Nettleford Hall Dinner.

Addressing the topic “Raksha Bandhan,” the Hindi translation for “Honoring, the Love and Respect between Brothers and Sisters,” Mrs. Blackwood-Meeks noted that it is important for students to recognize that both ethnic groups share a common experience of oppression and hardship.

She said that while they appear to share very different cultures, they have a longstanding connection through slavery. According to Mrs. Blackwood-Meeks, Indians and Africans were traded back and forth along the River Ganges in the days of colonization. She further stated that these experiences, which she termed as “early globalization,” brought about a level of solidarity amongst both groups.

Mrs. Blackwood-Meeks also stated that these experiences have caused Indians
and Africans to connect in a way that other groups did not. She disclosed that there are some festivals in the Indian culture that are similar to those of African peoples, in particular the African descendants in Haiti.

She commended the organizers for hosting the event with an Indian theme, and highlighted the importance of loving and respecting each other, as brothers and sisters, in these troubled times.

Meanwhile, Patron of the Dinner, Professor, the Honorable, Rex Nettleford also applauded the Hall Dinner Committee for their choice of an Indian theme. Professor Nettleford said that this was a reflection of the cultural awareness that exists among members of the Hall community.

He said that the dinner is a representation of solidarity, camaraderie, and a commitment to learning. He disclosed that he was honored such an event was held in his honor.

Thursday’s dinner was attended by members of the University’s hierarchy, including Deputy Principal, Joseph Pereira, Director of Student Services, Dr. Thelora Reynolds, and the Presidents of the Guild of Students for the St. Augustine, Cave Hill and Mona Campuses, as well as residents and staff of the Rex Nettleford Hall.

The Indian theme was reflected through the adornment of the Red Square, a meeting an entertainment area at the hall, while the menu comprised dishes popular in the Indian culture.

Written by:
Tamara Job
Final Year Student (Public Relations)

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